Full House Chili

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Cranberry Brine

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Thanksgiving Day Dinner would not be complete with a juicy, succulent turkey.   We had never brined a turkey in the past (we had smoked turkeys and roasted turkeys but no brining) so we thought we would give it a shot.  We used the following recipe for the brining solution that was inspired by several recipes on the web, but most notably from bbq.com.  We had about 12 family members over for dinner that day and it was unanimous; we will be using this technique on every bird going forward.  A new tradition is born!

Note: A fresh, "natural" turkey works best, but a completely thawed, previously frozen turkey will work just as well. Do not use a kosher or self-basting bird because these birds are packed in a brining solution already.  Otherwise the turkey will be too salty.  Check the label of your turkey before proceeding. 

Prep Time: 13 minutes for brining Prep, then 1 hour per pound for brining the turkey (we used a 14 lbs. pound turkey with this recipe).

Cook Time: 12-15 minutes per pound of bird, check proper temperature with thermometer or look for the little red button popping up if it came with the turkey (Dianne swears by it).

Ingredients:

  • 2 Quarts Cranberry juice
  • 1 Quart Water
  • 1 Cup Salt (1 1/2 cups Kosher or coarse salt)
  • 1/2 Cup Apple juice
  • 1/2 Cup Orange juice
  • 12 Cloves Garlic, unpeeled and lightly smashed
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 6-8 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Large Oven Bag for Turkey Roasting

Note: We had to increase the amount of water in order to ensure we had the liquid covering the top of the turkey so have some extra water around for assembly.

Directions:

  1. Brining: In a bowl, combine 1 quart water and 1 ½ cup of Kosher salt; stir for several minutes to dissolve the salt.  Put mixture aside and let the salt dissolve further.
  2. Take the Oven Roasting Bag and line an extra large stock pot (We used our pot for steaming whole lobsters and it seemed to do the trick). Then combine the salt solution with the other ingredients in the lined extra-large pot. Agitate the solution so that all the ingredients get incorporated well.
  3. Now, add the turkey to pot making sure that brine covers turkey (this is where you might have to increase the amount of water to ensure you cover the turkey fully). 
  4. Final step is to seal the oven bag with the tie provided (this allows for easy movement without sloshing the brining solution all over the floor), replace the lid to the stock pot and put the turkey in the refrigerator.
  5. Cooking Prep: Thoroughly rinse all the brine from the turkey, inside and out, before cooking. Otherwise there will be a salty flavor to the turkey.

Serve with your favorite red wine.  Might I suggest a J2 Winery red wine . . . .